Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Command, spoke at the 4th Japan-U.S. Military Statesmen Forum in Washington D.C. last week, addressing threats to the United States and its allies in the Pacific, including China, North Korea, and the Islamic State in the Philippines.

Admiral Harris explained that the nature of the threats posed in the Pacific dictate that U.S. and allied forces learn to adapt as quickly as the environment changes, which has been at an increasing rate in recent years.  Those rapid changes include North Korea’s recent advances in ballistic missile technology, including two successful ICBM test launches, as well as China’s increasing aggression in the East and South China Seas. ISIS banding together with other extremist organizations to capture and occupy Marawi City in Mindanao in the Philippines also represents a new development in the region that threatens U.S. and allied interests.

“That’s a lot of change in the last 12 months,” Harris said. “But I’ll point out three truths that have not changed.”

Those three truths, according to the PACOM commander, are the importance of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to the United States, American’s determination to remain a Pacific power and leader, and finally, the importance of a strong U.S. – Japanese alliance.

In a world crying out for leadership at the global level, the need for our alliance has never been stronger,” he said. “Today, the ties that bind our countries together have never been more robust. And I submit that those ties have never been more vital than they are today because of the mutual threats we face.”

After summarizing the situation, Harris went on to elaborate on the specifics of some of the threats posed in the region, starting with Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missile platforms needed to deliver them to far off targets.  North Korea’s most recent test, which saw a long-range ballistic missile remain airborne for a whopping 47 minutes before splashing down some 620 miles away, has led some experts to speculate that Kim could now target U.S. cities as far away as Boston or New York.

“North Korea is a clear and present danger” to global peace and stability, Harris explained.  Although Russia and China have effectively proven, at best, to be disinterested in seriously pursuing a denuclearized North Korea, Harris made sure to point out that Kim poses a threat to them as well.

“[North Korea is] a threat to the entire world because North Korea’s missiles point in every direction,” he said. “It’s the reason why we call for all nations to implement far stronger economic sanctions against Pyongyang.”